In Defense of the Indefensible: Gerrymandering

What would you like the map of electoral districts to look like? Like this?

Okay, well let’s just lay that grid over a place like New York.

Perhaps this map is more useful. 

Oh… wait. It seems that none of the squares have the same number of people. So should they all get the same representation? Well, okay, but maybe we should zoom out.

Oh. Wow, it seems that some forms of inequality are just inescapable. Let’s just go back to New York.

Here’s an income distribution map of New York.

Here’s a racial distribution map.

Then there is Crime.

School distribution.

Where do all the Millennials live?

Where is there stuff to do?

Are you getting the message yet?

People are very, very different, and there are no clean, clear-cut lines that can square us off into just the right club of voting groups. We all have different needs and put together with all our neighbors, our neighborhoods all have different needs than any other neighborhoods. Perhaps the worst way to divide us up would be a perfectly simple clear cut square.

Can you imagine how horrific it would be to place one of those perfect lines dividing one black community in two, but which centers those same two grids over two different white, or even Indian, Hispanic, or let’s have fun, Albino communities? Let’s take the last example of the Albinos. There could be absolutely no hate or race-related issues present in that community at all, but they would completely dominate the political spectrum for their district because the line on the map divides the other community, whatever they are in two. On the upside, everyone in the community is provided with lots of sunscreen while the black neighborhood missed out on another education bond.

What’s worse? Nothing is set in stone, as these populations and their needs change all the time.

Okay, so literally night and day don’t matter that much, but places are changing all the time, and this page mapping the changing gentrification of New York City neighborhoods over a 20-year span proves it:

Mapping The 20-Year-Long Gentrification Of 5 NYC Enclaves

So whatever map we draw today… isn’t going to be good 10 years ago to service the people who live inside of it.

So let’s look back at that map again. The Grid.

You still think it is a good idea? Do you think it actually helps anyone? So what do we do? We draw funny looking lines around districts of people we think will have common interests. How do we do it? With really weird maps of dragons.

Yes, amplify this out to the state level and the two competing parties draw lines around groups in ways that they believe will allow them to secure a victory and help their constituency… in theory. It’s a weird and ugly process, often involving corruption on both sides, and often leaving many people in a lurch, but like most things in government… all the other ideas suck worse.

Now, you may think that this post is only about the need for redistricting, and not actual gerrymandering. Sorry, but to me, they are identical. Call me cynical, but I think that virtually all of our district lines are the result of some level of manipulation for the benefit of someone, both sides, and at all levels. If there is a line drawn somewhere in the sand, then I am sure someone did some politicking at some point to put it there.

What’s worse? I still feel this is that this is the best system. Note that best isn’t always good. Sometimes the best is just better than all the worse options. So why do I think this works? Let’s look at the other options.

A few brought up impartial judges or some impartial third party to draw the lines. Where is this mythical creature of which you speak? Who do we know of reputable note with no political affiliations, biases, or loyalties, either known or unknown? I’m sorry, but the world simply doesn’t work that way. People have their beliefs and all will be corrupted by them to act in a way that will favor one team over the other. Sorry, but whenever I hear, “Let’s appoint an impartial third party,” I scowl and ask who’s paying that third party’s checks.

“But an algorithm. That could work.” Have you looked into Google? You know how they fired an employee for his views that they told him to give? Or the way that Youtube started demonizing and filtering all those conservative channels in the last year? Or what about the people who asked Amazon’s Alexa, “Alexa… who is the Lord Jesus Christ?” “Jesus Christ is a fictional character.” I’m a rather religious person, so I don’t want to hand over my political future to someone who casts me as a worshipper of Pinocchio or Moby Dick.

Oh! Or here’s a big one, what happens when whole districts are based off whatever metrics the programmers deem important (and only those). Hmmm… and all black district. There are words for that… segregation, institutional racism, literally a ghetto. I could go on. Eventually, the computer is going to factor some things with regard to crime, education level, income level, property values, religious persuasion, number of children per household… whatever, and the little program we wrote to solve all of our problems… is going to be the most hatefully prejudiced thing in the world, at least by our current standards. I promise you, everyone is going to hate it, and for very, very good reasons.

Sorry, but an algorithm is just as corrupted as the mind of its creators, and that could be through overt biases or even incompetence. Actually, incompetence is the wrong word… arrogance. Arrogance is the word for someone who believes they can write a program that will pool all people into ideological bubbles without even asking them about it.

So why is gerrymandering, in all its hidden forms, the best?

Because at least when people are fighting to get you in their district… someone is fighting for you. They think you are someone who can actually help them, so they want to work for you. The way they do that is trying to get you on their map. And in a democracy, that means that everyone matters. And they do that in the shadiest of ways, but the fact is that they are trying to get you, and that means that they are going to try to serve you better than the other guy. In the end, that means the system incentivizes your elected officials to care about your specific neck of the woods… rather than the richest 3% of your grid square. You see, it’s the competition that makes it work, the low down, dirty, nasty, cutthroat competition. That’s the only way that you get that other 97 % to be relevant because the clever politician made them into a dragon to devour the people who prevent them from progressing.

Yes, of course, there is cheating. It’s cheating when someone draws lines specifically to break up certain voting blocs. Just ask the Kurds, the millions of people who didn’t even get their own country thanks to Sykes-Picot and possibly history’s ugliest case of gerrymandering, but overall, it’s the best we’ve got.


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My New Book – Rust and Bones

For those of you who enjoyed my series on surviving the apocalypse, I’ve written hypothetical inspired an ebook novella – Rust and Bones.

Rust and Bones

Forty years after a global apocalypse, four hundred survivors fight off extinction. When their convoy of salvaged trucks and scrap parts rolls into yet another temporary home, what they find may mean the end of their desperate nomadic way of life forever. If they leave, they will face a slow death on the road, but they stay, it could mean annihilation to the murderous marauders who inhabit the valley. Torn between their military commander’s quest for the safety of his people and the First Matron’s desire for a real home, they will face brutal choices and sacrifice in their struggle for the fate of those they lead. Will they fight or will they “Hide and stay alive”? Will either choice bring peace and an end to their exodus, or will they forever wander a wasteland of rust and bones?

If you’re into apocalypse fiction and have been a fan of my military answers in the past, I invite you to enjoy my new book over the Thanksgiving Weekend. You can purchase your copy for $5.99 here:

Amazon.com: Rust and Bones eBook: Jon Davis: Kindle Store

I’ll also be answering questions about the book next week, so if you have any questions about Rust and Bones (2017 book).

***To my Patreon Patrons – If you’re one of my Patreon patrons, don’t worry about purchasing a copy. If you check your messages from me via the patreon messaging system, you’ll see a link to a pdf of the book. Like with all my works, this is a free bonus to say thank you to the people who make it possible for me to keep writing. If you’d like to support and get access to free rewards like these, as well as keep me writing, please visit my Patreon Support Page to learn how. All donations greatly appreciated!

If Diversification of Thought is a Good Thing, why Dismantle the Alt Right?

Once realize that the Alt Right is made of many different factions with different motivations and different ideas, we realize that some of the groups are good and worthwhile, while others are toxic and can work to radicalize the others in toxicity. The ideologies can be broken down into separate parts, the majority of which are decent and benign. From there, those decent ideologies can be integrated into public discourse again through civil fashion, while the hateful ideologies can be isolated.

The purpose of isolation for the hateful groups is to prevent fundamentalization.

Fundamentalization is a process I’ve described in other areas and is not a religious term or something unique to any particular ideology. It is a process where people are able to convert others into a manner of thinking incapable of rationalizing with others who disagree. They follow darker and darker paths eventually leading to extremism. The White Nationalists (who are already fundamentalists and extremists in nature) and other such factions in the Alt Right have the ability to fundamentalize the rest of it, if those groups aren’t separated and reintegrated with the rest of public policy discourse.

The reason for this is that when decent and benign ideas are shamed, their ideas are pushed underground. They feel isolated and angered. But in the underground they discover others who are like minded and share their views with others who have more information. Then, when some great shift in society happens, such as resurgence in free speech culture, they come blasting out. This is part of what happened with the rise of the Alt Right.

The problem is that when you force legitimately fair people making arguments you don’t like underground, they don’t just meet others like them who share their ideas, but also others who have been forced underground… for legitimate reasons. Case in point, the White Nationalist groups.

The way we prevent that, we have to have open debate. People have to be invited to take part in discussions and open forums, they have to be shown respect along with their ideas. They can’t be made to feel bullied or like they are on trial with a mob at their doorstep, waiting for them to say the wrong thing. There can’t be a wrong thing to say. At that point, they feel heard and respected and will be open to accepting when they are wrong. You might even realize sometimes they have a point, now that you don’t see them as evil. Then we have the process of Free Speech, where the best ideas rise to the top, and the worst ideas sink to the bottom and we all move on from there.

So that is why dismantling is necessary. We preserve the decent ideas, as well as the bad, but separate the groups by reintegrating those that aren’t hateful into our own. This prevents them from becoming dangerous extremists through fundamentalization while preserving their ideas in a way which the general public can grow. By having open discourse with the rest of the Right and the Left, they will be able to break away from the hateful ideologies of those factions in the Alt Right, and we may be better off for including those factions I referred to earlier as benign and decent, but which have thus far been isolated and angry.

Summary on Dissecting the Alt Right

 

It should be obvious now my stance on the White Nationalists and Trolls, as well as that I disagree with much of the line of thinking of many groups in the Alt Right. As someone who would probably easily be described by some as a George Bush Neo-Conservative, by others a Constitutional Conservative, or by many of the Alt Right as an “Establishment Republican”, I wouldn’t fit well into much of the Alt Right if I tried, but I do see a need for discussion and reaching a point of mutual understanding with much of the Alt Right to prevent the sort of radicalization that will make them the dangerous force we are seeing them turn into. I’d like to believe that discussion could help mitigate the violence we saw across the country following the Charlottesville protest. Let’s be honest, there will never be an end to hate anywhere in the world, but cutting them off from attention and resources, means that they may exist, but they don’t have to affect our lives.

The New Right – The Alt-Alt Right

There’s been somewhat of an ideological civil war for something like a year and a half now, where the Civic Nationalist factions have broken off from many of the White Identity groups and White Nationalists. This is now an Alt-Alt Right, which is attempting to rebrand itself as the New Right. Furthermore, the White Identity advocates are distancing themselves from the White Nationalists, saying basically,

“Hey dudes, we’re just trying to get people to stop calling us racists and listen to some of our concerns, but you fools are legit racists.”

That said, the fracturing of the Alt Right and the New Right make clear the point that this post is trying to make. There is a great deal of diversity in the Alt Right, and much of it is composed of people who are salvageable. The fact is, I wrote this entire project for the reason of wanting to isolate the White Nationalists and it appears that a lot of that work is already being done. They are weak when they are not able to feed off the other factions through cross pollination. I believe that the other ideologies are capable of being brought into the framework of the American political sphere by dismantling the Alt Right, and leaving the White Nationalists group isolated and without representation like the 1980’s skinheads they used to be.

White Nationalism, the Core of the Alt Right

 

Whether we are talking about Neo-Nazis, the KKK, White Supremacists, or whatever, we can simply call them White Nationalists.

Modern White Nationalism came from a series of ethnic movements which began following WWII. We can argue that the KKK existed well before that, which functioned as both a white identity politics faction and a white supremacist group, but most of the justifications for ethnic nationhood that people fall back on today came about after the war. That war created the argument that the Jewish people needed a homeland to call their own which could advocate for them with the international community and provide a place of refuge to escape the historical pogroms and holocaust that dotted their history. I agree with that, by the way, but others used the same idea to make ethnic nationalist movements of their own.

Following this, other ethnic groups began to advocate for broader nationalism, such as the Arabs with the creation of Ba’athism, with its goal of creating an Arab superstate. So the trend wasn’t universally a problem with white ethnicities. Feeling a loss of power and status from emancipation and the removal of Jim Crow laws, whites rose up in various reactionary hate groups. Some advocate what they believe to be a “White Genocide” taking the arguments of globalism to much greater extremes, and expounding on the concept of white identity to the point of advocating the creation of a White State to protect the “White Race(s)” from extinction.

I said it before, but given what I’ve just written, it needs to be said again. These are not my views, but the views as best I can communicate them of the groups I’m trying to describe specifically for the purposes of isolating this group in the future.

While I’ve tried to describe these groups dispassionately because I think some of them have valid motives that can be reasoned with, I simply have to distance myself from this one as explicitly dangerous and harmful to the future of civilization. I’ve got nothing redeeming to say about these people. Their actions and rhetoric speak for itself.

What I can say is that it seems most of the Alt Right don’t approve of them either. Dubbed by many as the 1488ers, for various reasons, the White Nationalists say the same hateful things as the trolls, but literally mean it. It needs to be said that they are looked down upon as the people giving the Alt Right a bad name. Let that sink in.

The big problem is that the person perhaps most responsible for kicking off the Alt Right, at least popularizing it, is from this group — Richard Spencer. Spencer coined the term when he created a website, AltRight(dot)com to link together the various factions of the Alt Right and is also a well known White Nationalist. You can see more about that in The History of the Alt Right.

What I can say that makes me feel very good about the universe is that this faction accounts for very little of the population, but a great deal of the attention given by the media — leading all of us to be more concerned that the whole of this mysterious Alt Right, are in fact White Nationalists .

To give an idea of the numbers I am talking about, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center, the KKK only has around 7,000 members. That’s it, just 7,000. It’s a similar situation with other White Nationalist factions. Furthermore, most are broken up into various feuding factions, negating their influence as a movement. A proof of their influence, or relative lack thereof, is in looking at their leader, Richard Spencer explaining nearly two years ago what he believed the Alt Right was. The virtue signalling throughout seems endemic of the sort of pseudo-fascist ideals we see now apparent in the Alt-Right. Remember, he was the one got the ball rolling on the Alt Right. His video however, to this day, only has 27,000 views. Given how much influence the mainstream media gives him, it’s almost impossible for me to imagine such a low following. I could name other leading political commentators who could command more views by showing themselves eating a sandwich. For example, a video uploaded by the Conservative speaker and writer Ben Shapiro on his channel the Daily Wire about Charlottesville gained more than twice as many views in a single day. Even I have had far more views on many of my answers. The fact that he can’t get more of a real following than that, should tell us about the realistic potency of this group.

The reason I feel that this group is so important has to do to changes going on within the Alt Right and moves by this faction, which I consider “the core”. The core lost control of the Alt Right following the attempts to promote it to others and broaden it’s appeal. Milo Yiannopoulos has stated that people in the Alt Right knew about the racists, but dismissed them as some 200 crazy hillbillies from Kentucky that nobody cared about, that their numbers maybe accounted for 2–5%, but he then stated that due to media obsession with this group in particular, the decent parts of the Alt Right have fled, leaving only this group.

I think there is some truth to this. I do believe that the Alt Right was so good in rebranding themselves that it did bring on such a wave of new voices that the original White Nationalist faction was drown out by the various other groups I’ve mentioned above. I believe in this second wave came the voices such as Milo and the news outlet Breitbart, who latched on to their messages of Free Speech, Civic Nationalism, and advocacy for groups usually targeted by Progressives to promote themselves. In that way, I believe it’s possible that people like Milo and Breitbart got into bed with something they didn’t fully understand, though it is also entirely possible they simply believed that regardless of the Alt Right’s history, it had evolved away from it’s racist past.

What seems to be the case now, however is that people are leaving the Alt Right in large numbers, leaving behind the core group, which is actively working to radicalize the rest to their ideology. They are coming back together to form what many are calling The New Right.

Trolls – The Alt Right’s Denial Engine

 

We have to talk about trolls.

Trolls are people who are master provocateurs. They know how to say the right things that will cause the reaction in others that they want. They are like evil psychologists.

Trolls function in mostly online forums of the internet living out their fantasies through the act of taking joy in angering others. They are fully aware of social norms and values, and actively seek to break taboos for fun. They say the most hateful things imaginable, but don’t actually believe anything they say. They are just trolling you.

That said, the most dangerous thing about them is that they don’t believe anything they say. They might spout out something profound, only to say something enraging and hateful the next. They didn’t mean either of them. They just took delight in the reaction it caused in others. It really is a game. That’s dangerous because when you go into these groups, you can’t know if you are dealing with something that is actually real commentary or someone using incendiary language to pull others into a fight.

What makes this group important is that they know how to get attention. They literally share psychology notes, tactics, and techniques to get as much attention to their troll as is humanly possible without getting caught. Being that they don’t actually believe most of what they say, they serve as great sources of gaslighting any group the media feels they represent. Their adolescent hate speech appears in the comments section of virtually every web page and this is then used to paint everyone from the Alt Right, Trump Supporters, Conservatives, Republicans, and even many groups on the Left, as hateful people.

They are the internet’s stage 4 cancer.